About 75 Americans identify themselves as Christian, according to the U.S. Census. But hundreds of thousands of Americans practice other religions; the most popular of those are Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. About 15 percent more don't practice religion at all. How do religious minorities fit in to the fabric of our country? And what can be done to ease tensions among the faiths?
Why does religious intolerance exist?
“There are people that are intolerant of other religions because I think they think theirs is more right then others. ... A lot of the time it's because of the way they were raised.” — Ali Williams, Yukon High School sophomore
“No matter how many times different views are explained, there are always going to be closed-minded people.” — Jackie Kirk, Harding Charter Prep senior
“Some people believe that their religion — or lack thereof — is better than others. Also, some people don't like things that are different than what they are used to.” — Alex Greenwood, Duncan High School junior
“People are too stubborn and don't want to listen to others because they feel that what they think is right and everyone else is wrong.” — Reavis Hammond, Duncan High School junior
“Religious intolerance exists because of those who believe the rights of others aren't as important as their own, when the fact of the matter is it shouldn't matter what someone else's religion is.” — Jonathon Lofton, Duncan High School senior
“I think some people are so stubborn, they think their way is right and nothing else is.” — Brooklyn Scott, Duncan High School junior
“I believe that people have the need to fit in. They also have fear of the unknown. Since most people don't know about other religions, they tend to fear those people. Therefore, they show their intolerance for other religions so that they can mask their fear.” — Sara Ishaq, Mercy School Institute freshman
“Religious intolerance exists because of a lack of education.” — Luke Teague, Classen School of Advanced Studies freshman
“Religious intolerance exists because people tend to believe that they know the only way to find God. People forget that if a person finds God, they will find the truth, no matter what religion they are a part of.” — Lucy Fitzmorris, Mount Saint Mary Catholic High School senior
Are high school students tolerant when it comes to other religions?
“Religious tolerance in high schools is definitely improving. ... High school students are now more aware and more informed about different faiths, which allows religious tolerance to flourish more and more everyday.” — Nadia Enchassi, ASTEC Charter School senior
“Most high school students are tolerant of other religion. With social media, students interact more with other cultures and religion.” — Annie Liu, Norman High School senior
“At first, people with another religion might stick out, but other students get used to it and eventually, over time, talk to them and realize they aren't much different from them in the first place.” — Iqra Zahoor, Norman North junior
“I do not believe so. Some are though. Just depends on how they were raised. Most go with what their friends and family do and believe. Others have their own views.” — Caitlyn Clark, Mustang High School senior
“A high schooler's tolerance depends on his/her upbringing.” — Nour Kayali, a Classen School of Advanced Studies sophomore
“The majority is not (tolerant), because the younger society is very arrogant and ignorant when it comes to religion. This is because they are not supplied with all the information needed.” — Yazan Salou, Dove Science Academy senior
“No, they are the harshest. They don't care whose feelings are hurt.” — Alexis Graham, Moore High School junior
“From what I've seen, I don't think they really care unless they see someone wearing a big symbol of their religion or an article of clothing. When people see those, they kind of start talking.” — Monica Morel, Edmond Santa Fe freshman
What can be done to promote tolerance?
“It's simple. We can help by changing ourselves first.” — Jasmine Shafik, a Mercy School sophomore
“Spending more time on religious studies of the world in world history curriculum classes.” — Fariyah Ahmad, Edmond Memorial High School senior
“Truly, I don't believe there is anything we can do.” — Cannon Williams, Harding Charter Prep senior
“If there was an opportunity for people to learn about other religions and understand other people's way of life, then there will be more tolerance regarding religion. People will understand other people and respect them.” — Sena Soylu, a Lawton High School sophomore
“There needs to be a realization that everyone is unique. Not everyone is going to believe the exact same thing as the next, but we can all coexist. If everyone was exactly the same, life would be boring, right?” — Taylor Casady, Duncan High School senior
“If someone believes something different than us, we listen.” — Britton Scott, Duncan High School junior
“Students can either grow to like others that differ from them or not.” — Tyler Bishop, Edmond Santa Fe junior